July 11, 2002, Episode Ten: When Dogs Interact
Dallas Road is a scenic stretch on the South Side of Victoria along the waterfront. It is a dog-haven, a place where dogs run without leashes and owners get to enjoy playfulness and freedom with their companions. We went out to Dallas Road to talk to the dogs. A description of Dallas Road can be found in the transcript below.
Symbolic Interactionism is a term coined by sociologist, Herbert Blumer in 1937 and represents one of the major approaches to social phenomena taken by sociologists. According to SI, people attach meanings to things they encounter. Those meanings are created through social interaction. Words and gestures are the means by which people share meanings with each other. People anticipate what others will do based upon those meanings. So for a symbolic interactionist, words, gestures and meanings in mundane exchanges merit close study and understanding. Dr. Clint Sanders is a symbolic interactionist. He has been a professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut since 1976. We talked to him by phone recently and discussed his interest in dogs and his assertion that if we want to understand human society fully, we need to acknowledge that we live in an interspecies society.
We asked ourselves what we learned from our dogs. We share our top-ten lists and some insights about our own interactions with the animals in our lives, including bugs. We discover a lot can happen when dogs interact!
The sun is bright and warm. Safely away from the busy city streets, along the shoreline, people walk or run. Some choose to head down the bluff to the shore itself and enjoy the cool salty waters of the Straits of Juan de Fuca, watching a passing sea lion or bird or boat or ship. Some push their bodies to the limits, running or jogging full speed, burning calories and enjoying the feeling of movement as rubber sole hits tarred pavement in a rhythmic ritual as the landscape passes through their vision as a blur. Some stroll casually along the path enjoying the scent of the flowers and the sea air, mindfully taking in the beauty of the coastline.
They push walkers or strollers or wheel chairs. They talk with friends. They listen to their personal, alone in the crowd.
They pursue these various activities in orderly fashion, yielding for the quickest among them, in choreographed movements that belie their happenstance. Like good members of the community, most do not stray from the paths provided.
That is, most of the two-legged creatures stay on the path.
Dallas Road is a dog haven. On any summer afternoon or evening, dogs happily run, fetch, drool, swim, roll on their backs and check out every smell they possibly can find. Some of them stay close to their human companions; others run freely, happy to let out their innerwolves to roam the bluffs. While some are more shy than others, all of them seem quite pleased to be out in the sun, doing what comes naturally.
Originally, we approached several dogs and their human companions to see if we could record some barking and panting noises to add as background for our show. What we ended up recording was a wonderful collection of human/dog interaction.
copyright by Pattie Thomas and Carl Wilkerson 2002
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